Clark Beek

Top Ten Cruising Destinations

8 Aug

I'm always asked my favorite stop on my circumnavigation, and it’s hard to give a short answer. This is the long answer, but it’s still hard not to ruminate, equivocate, and qualify. To make my list they must be outstanding all-around places to sail, anchor, live aboard, go ashore, and all the things that cruising entails:

1. Andaman Thailand (photo above):

Cruising, ten. Natural beauty, ten. People, ten. Food, ten. Safety, ten. Hundreds of karst limestone islands dot the 120 miles between the Malaysian border and Phuket. Each is its own little paradise. Many have hongs (literally rooms): tunnels, chambers, ...

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The Pacific Cup: Know When to Turn Back

6 Aug

Three weeks ago we saw Juanita off at the start of the Pacific Cup. Five intrepid sailors headed toward Hawaii; a boatload of well-wishers waved goodbye at the Golden Gate. By that night Juanita was completely becalmed, drifting within half a mile of the thundering breakers on the Southeast Farallon, which claimed five racers’ lives earlier this year.

The race committee puts some kind of tag on your transmission, and if you put your engine in gear during the race you’re disqualified…or have time added and some explaining to do. It was a nervous night for Juanita, hearing the ...

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The Cruiser Archetypes

3 Aug


Every cruiser is different, but over the years certain archetypes have emerged in my mind:

The Crusty Cruiser (or Grotty Yachtie): Seafaring life a thin disguise for alcoholism. Doesn’t really ever sail anywhere, but settles into haunts like Marina La Paz, Phuket, or certain Caribbean islands where rum is cheap. Boats are likely to have cockroaches and lots of dog hair. If male, Moses beard. If female, hairy legs and arm pits. Personal hygiene neglected due to water shortage aboard. Favorite part of cruising: cocktail hour.

The Yacht Club Officer on Tour: Yacht Club Burgee flown at all times ...

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My Favorite Cruising Injuries

30 Jul

Injuries never happened on my boat during my circumnavigation, because on the boat we were always careful and conservative. It’s off the boat that we did stupid things and got hurt.

In the photo above you’ll see my friend Philippe getting stitches in my cockpit. Like all good Frenchmen, he’s having a smoke too.

This was in Thailand on Ko Phi Phi, the Island of a Thousand Delights, when we were on our way to Malaysia to compete in the Royal Langkawi International Regatta. We went out on the town, heard some live music, had more than a few drinks, ...

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How to Equalize a Battery

29 Jul

This is another mad scientist project, where you can cause a serious mishap if you don't do things right, so be very careful and don't fry your face off with exploding battery acid, okay? The process below only works on flooded batteries. If you've got gel cell, AGM, or any other sealed battery, you can't perform this kind of gross equalization.

I went to start my engine after a little overnight cruise, and no go. In a previous post I talked about various ways to keep a battery in reserve for such times, so I was able to start the ...

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Return of the Baggywrinkle

26 Jul


Baggywrinkle. Go ahead, say it. You know you want to. Baggywrinkle, baggywrinkle, baggywrinkle! Silly name; excellent solution.

Baggywrinkles have become a rarity in the modern sailing world, but I’ve found one place where they should make a comeback: Full-batten mainsails are increasingly popular, but when you let the sail out the full battens come in contact with the lower shroud:

You can see how the full battens are resting on the soft baggywrinkle, instead of a metal shroud. This is on my boat–a traditional ketch–and the main isn’t even let out very far. On a modern boat with swept-back spreaders, ...

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Sorry, marine electronics industry…

20 Jul

…but I've gone to the dark side.

I have shunned one of your fine products and moved my electronic navigation onto my iPad. Every sailing magazine and website seems to have something about this every month, but I'll give the blow-by-blow of my personal experience:

1. My beautiful wife gave me an iPad last Christmas. I thought, what the hell am I going to do with this thing? I'm a Luddite. I like paper books and keeping my calendar on a calendar.

2. What? I can get a navigation/chartplotting program for this thing…that's something useful.

3. Oh no! My wife, ...

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Are pirates cool?

17 Jul

“To Err is human. To Arr is pirate.” I saw that on a t-shirt yesterday.

A fairly large percentage of recreational boaters fly pirate flags—the Jolly Roger or some variation. They fly them because they look cool, but this is a touchy subject among sailors.

Take these headlines:

“American Yacht Captured by Somali Pirates – Crew Hostage”

"Somali pirates anchor Danish family yacht, threaten death"

“Couple held hostage by Somali pirates for more than a year” 

That’s not cool. That’s the opposite of cool. That’s the least cool thing that could ever happen to a sailor.

Today’s pirate flag flyers obviously don’t support that ...

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And they’re off!…Pacific Cup 2012

16 Jul

With a few Singlehanded TransPac competitors still en route, the Pacific Cup started today. We've got so many nut cases sailing from San Francisco to Hawaii these days I can barely keep track.

I took a group on Condesa to see Juanita off. I've got to know both boat and owner, Mike Stanton, very well over the last few years of preparation. We added refrigeration, solar panels, electronics, and all manner of new wiring and gadgets to this forty-some-year-old tank of a boat. Mike's crew (with the exception of the younger Mike, who we'll have to call Number 2) are ...

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